Sivut kuvina
PDF

But here you must consider, neither I,
Nor any master of philosophy
Affirm, that cv'ry being may commence
A sensible, and show the acts of sense:
But that those seeds, whence sensibles arise,
Must all have a convenient shape and size,
Position, motion, order : now not one
Of these appears in earth, or wood, or stone:
Yet these fermented by a timely rain, 8jO
Gri.w fruitful, and produce a num'rout train
Of worms; because the little bodies leave
Their former site and union; and icceive
New motion, into Dew position fall,
And order, sit to make an animal.

Besides, they who contend that things commence

Sensibles, from seeds endow'd with fense,
Must grant those seeds are soft; for sense does
To tender gut alone, or nerve, or vein: [join
All which are soft and easily dissolv'd. 860

But grant they could eternally endure,
Suppose them all srnm fatal change secure:
Yet other doubts occur. For further see,
If all those seeds have sense, that sense must be
Or of one single member, or of all;
And se be like a perfect animal.
But now the parts in a divided state
Enjoy no sense: The hand, if separate
Can seel no more, nor any member live
Divided from the body, nor perceive i 870
Therefore each mult be like an animal,
Each single seed contain the fense of all.
Bnt if like animals; then tell me why,
As well as animals, they cannot die i
And why immortal all.'

But grant them so; Yet what could all their combinations do, But make some animals? And what could be in

creas'd But sensibles?

As man get« only man, and beast gets beast.
. But if the sced« in mixture lose their own, 880
And take another sense, when theirs is gone,
W hat need of any? Why should we suppose,
They ever had that sense, which they must lose i
And since, as 1 have urg'd before, 'tistrue,
That birds are made of eggs; sinee soft'ning dew
Ferments the clods to worms, we know from
thence

That sensibles arise from seeds devoid of sense.

If any grants the thing, that sense can rise from senseless seeds, if he consent to this, But fays, that it is forni'd and fashion'd all 890 By change, that's made in th' atoms, e'er the

, animal, Or any other things are born, and grow; For his conviction I shall only (how, 'Isbat'nature's 6x,'d, and steady laws decreed, ~\ That nothing should be cbang'd, that nought/ "', should breed T Without a combination of the seed. • J And thus without the limbs no iense can rise. It cannot be, before the body is: Because the seeds lie scatter'd ev'ry where, hj heav'n, and earth, in water, flame and air; 900

Not yet combin'd to make an animal, •
Nor sense, that guide, and governor of all.
Besides, when strokes too strong for nature")
fall, I
And mighty pressure crush an animal, s
Its seeds and vital pow'rs are scatter'd all, J
For then the little seeds do separate,
And all the vital pow'rs are stopt by fate.
At length the motion, scatter'd through the whole,
Breaking the vital ties of limbs and soul,
Expels, and drives it out at every pore; 9101
For what can force, for what can stroke do/
m^re f
Than disunite those seeds that join'd before? J
But when the force is weak, more light the
blows.

The small remains of life with ease compose
The violent motions of approaching fate,
And call back all things to their former state;
Expel usurping death, that seem'd t'obtain
An empire there; and settle sense again.
Else why should living creatures, that arrive
So near'the gates of death, return and live, 91*
Rather than enter in, when come so nigh,
And end their almost finish'd race and die? -

Besides, since we feel pain, when outward forte
Diverts th' atoms from their natural course,
And shakes them o'er the limbs, but when ti'l
obtain I
Their nat'ral motion, and their place again, s
A quiet pleasure straight succeeds the pah), J
It follows, that the feeds are thingsur.su,
Or to be touch'd with pain,or with delight;
Because they arc not made of other seed, 93°
Whose change of motion, or of site may breed
Or pain, or pleasure, or delight; and hence
It follows too, that they are void of sense.

But farther still; if we must needs believe, That seeds have sense, because the things perceive; What fort of seeds must form the human race? 1 Can violent laughter screw their little face? > Or can they drop their briny tears apace? J Can they or laugh, or weep? Can they descry The greatest secrets of philosophy? 94a Discourse how things are mix'd? Or comprehewi On what firm principles themselves depend? Fr,r all things, which enjoy the faculties, And pow'rs of perfect animals must rise From other seeds, and these must be begun From others: thus we endlessly go on: Ft thus I'll urge: whatever can perceive, Discourse, laugh, reason, flatter, weep, and grieve, Must be compounded, and must owe its frame l'o proper seeds, which can perform the fame, 950 But if this seems absurd, and dull, morose, And heavy seeds can laughing things compost; If wise and if discourstve things can rise From seeds, that neither reason, nor are wife: What hinders then but that a sensible May spring from seeds all void of sense i< well?

Lastly, We all from seeds celestial rise, Which Heav'n our common parent still sepplies.

From him the earth receives enliv'ning rain, And straight (he bean bird.trcc, and beast,aijd ous, 980

And proper food for all by which they thrive, ~\ Grow strong, arid propagate their race, and f liri: s TJience justly all the name of mother give. J And so each part returns, when bodies die, ~i What unit from eai;h to earth, what from the /

IkT (

Dropt down, ascends again, and mounts on high. J
Fir death does not destroy, but disunite
The seeds, and change their order and their lite:
Then makes new combination*, whence arise
In bodies all those great varieties: 970
Their change in colour, shape, and frame; aud
thence

Som: for a while enjoy, then lose their sense,
from whence, as we observ'd before, we find
It matter* much with what first seeds are j'oin'd:
What Hie, and what position they maintain,
What notion give, and what receive again;
And that the feeds of bodies ne'er contain
Such frail and transient things as seem to lie
On bodies' surfaces, and change and die.
It matters much, ev'n in these ruder lines,
How, or with what each single letter joins:
F<>r the fame letters, or almost the same,
Make words to signify earth, fun, and flame>
The moon, the heav'n. corn, animals, and trees,
And sea: but rheir position disagrees;
Ttieir order's not alike; in bodies so;
Ai their seeds order, figure, motion do, [too.
The things themselves must change and vary

But now attend, I'll teach thee something new;
'Til strange, but yet 'tis reason, and 'tis true: 990
Ev'n what we now with greatest ease receive,
S'em'd strange at first, and we could scarce believe;
And what we wonder at, as years increase,
Will seem more plain, and al! our wonder cease,
for look, the heav'r., the stars, the fun, the moon,
If on a sudden to us mortals shown,
discover* d now. and never seen before, [more?
What culd have rais'd the people's wonder
What could be more admir'd at here below?
E»'a jou had been surpris'd at such a show. ICCO
Bat now, all cloy\1 with these, scarce cast an eye,
Ut think it worth the pains to view the sky.
Wherefore fly no opinion, 'cause 'tis new;
But strictly learch, a>nd after careful view,
Reject, is fa'sc; embrace it, if 'tis true.

Now I have prov'd before, this mighty space

infinite, and knows no lowest place, Nor uppermost: no bounds this all controul; Tor that's against the nature of the whole.

Through this vast space since seeds then always move 1010 With various turns, and from eternal strove; Who can imagine there should only rise Our single earth, our air, am! but our skies, Whilii ad the other matter. I'eatttr'd lies? Especially, finer these from change arose, When the uuthn.^:tw ko'*! by various blows, N<w thi», now tliv way mov'd, at last were 'no the decent r:rd. of this world, [hurl'd toi made fit coml:..ation'; whence began Tot earth, the tieav'u, the sea, and beast, and nun, « Iwjo

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Thus then 'tis prov'd, and certain, that elsewhere.
The busy atoms join, as well as here:
Such earths, such seas, l'uch men, such beasts,
arise.

All like to those surrounded by our skies.

Again: when there can be no hindering cause. But place and seed enough; by nature's laws Thiags must be made: Now if the feed surmount The utmost stretch of number's vast account; And the fame nature can compose a mass, As once in this, in any other plare; 103a It plainly fellows, that there must arise k Distinct and num'rous worlds, earths, men, I

and skies, , t In places distant, and remote from this.' J

Now farther add: No specie! has but one, Which is begun, increas'J, and grows alone: But ev'ry kind docs certainly contain, Of individuals, a num'rous train; As bird, and silent fish, as beast and man: Therefore the species of the fun and moon, Us heav'n and earth, must needs have more than

one. IC40 For ev'ry one of these is made, and grows By the fame nature's cath'lic laws, with I Whose spacious kinds do num'rous trains

close.

If this you understand, you'll plainly sec
How the vast maJV os matter, nature, free
From the proud care os any meddling deity,
IVes work hy her own private strength, and move
Without the trouble of the pow'n above.
For hew, good gods! can those that live in peace,
In »• disturb'd and everlasting case, 1050
Rule this vast all? Their lab'ring thoughts divide
'swixt heav'n and earth, and ail their motions
guide?

Send heat t" us, the various orbs controul,
Or be immense, and spread o'er all the whole?
Or hide the heav'n in clouds, whence thunder
thrown,

Beats ev'n their own aspiring temples down?
Or throv»h vast deserts break th'innocent wood,
N»r hurts the bad, but strikes the just and good i

Learn next, th' infinite mass fends new supplies1
Into the world already forni'd, whence skies, io6»
And this vast ball of earth, and boist'rous seas,
And spacious air grow bigger, and increase;
For all to their own proper kinds retire,
To earth the earthy, fiery parts to fire,
To water, wat'ry; till they grow as great
As nature's fix'd aud steady laws permit.
For as in animals, when ev'ry vein
Receives no more than what-flies ofl"again,
They can increase no more: such means secure
Those things from farther growth, when once
mature. 1070

For that which looks so fair, so gay, and young, Climbs to maturity, grows great and strong, T hat many parts receives, and still retains, And spends but few; because through all the vein* The little nour'shing parts, with ease diffus'd, Are there in little space conftn'd, and us'd For growth; but few fly off, and break the chain, And get their former liberty again.

For though thing! lose their parti, when they are gone,

Some new supplies of other feeds come on, ro8o And more than they have lost: Thus things endure,

Look gay and young, until they grow mature. Thence by degrees our strength melts all away, And treach'rou* age creeps on, and things decay: For bodies, now grown big and Urge, which-}

c< ase I From their cr.ntinu'd growth, nor more increase, > Still waste t:e more, their parts disperse with I

east. J The nour'shing parti come sl.iwly on, and few, Too small decaying nature lo renew; The stock is largely spent: no new supply, 1*90 Sufficient to make good those parts that die • Therefore they needs must fall, their nature broke Bv inward wasting or external stroke; Because the stock of nourishment decays. As age cc ps on , and still a thousand ways The little cnruiei without oppose, And strive to kill them by c. ntmual blows. And thus the world must fall, though new

supply

The mass affords to raise those things that die: Yet all in vain; for nature cannot give Iioo Supplies sufficient, nor the world receive.

[ocr errors]

Even now the world'i grown old: th' earth")

that bore
Such mighty bulky animals before,
Now bears a puny infect, and no more.
For who can think these creatures, fram'd alow,
The little bus'nefs of some meddling Jove.'
And thence, to people this inferior bill,
By Homer's golden chain let gently fall?
Nor did they rife from the rough seas, but earth,
so what she now supports, at first gave birth. 1 no
At first {he corn, and wine, and oil, did bear,
And tender fruit, without the tiller's care;
She brought forth herbs, which now the fttble
foil

Can scarce afford to all our pain and tell:
We I ibour, sweat, and yet by all this strife
Can scarce ger corn and wine enough for life:
Our men, our oxen grean, and never cease,
So fast our labours grow, our fruits decrease?
Nay, oft the farmers with a sigh complain,
That they have labour'd all the year in vain,
And, looking back on former aires, bless, I III
With anxious thoughts, their parents happiness;
Talk, loudly talk, how pious they were fill'J, 1
Content with what the v, illing foil did yield, v
Though each man then enjoy'd a narr'wer held.)
But never think, fond fool.-.' that age will wife
This mighty world, and break the frame a: lad.

[merged small][graphic]

Ver. I. LucuitTios had made choice of a subject naturally crabbed, and therefore he adorned it with poetical descriptions and precepts of morality, in the beginning and ending of his books: And thus intending in this book to treat of the motions aud figures of his atoms, and of their other prr.pertics, which we call qualities, he introduces his subject by the praise of that philosophy which Epicurus taught, as well to give some respite and relaxation to the wearied mind of his Mem niius, as .by laying before his eyes, and forewarning him of the dangers and calamities of others, to allure him to the study of that philosophy which he calk the doctrine of the wife. Thus, the first twenty verses contain two-comparisons and a metaphor, in which he assorts, that the life of a wise man consists in a perfect tranquillity of mind, and indolence of body; and, at the fame time, he derides and bemoans the anxieties and restless desires of other men. But there are some who accuse Lucretius of ill nature and cruelty of temper, on account of the first verses of this book, where he fays,

*Tis pleasant safely to behold from shore
The rolling (hip, and hear the tempest roar:
Mot that another's pain is our delight;
But pains unfclt produce the pleasing sight.'
'Tis pleasant also to behold from far
The moving legions mingled in the war;

But much more sweet thy lab'ring steps to gciJe To virtues heigh's, with wisdom well fnpply'd.V And all the magazines of learning fortifyM: } From thtnee to look below on human kind, Bewilder'd in the maze of life, and blind.

DrjL

But their censure seems too severe and unjutl. The poet asserts only the seniitncnt of all nunkind . for who beholds another in any great affliction, or groaning under the violence of torments, and does not presently think within himself, ho* happy am I not to be in that condition' Isidorus Pelus. lib. li. iCpist. 240. says, that nothing is more pleasant than i> X,ftmi %afgtSxi, Mat To. aXXt/f txvgUv tmvayn, to lit 10 the harbour, and behold the Ihipwrcck os others. Cicero too is of the fame mind, in the second epiltte to Atticus. And our excellent Dryden, describing the life of a happy man, lays to the fame purj*l» with Lucretius:

No happiness can be where is no rest;
Th' unknown, umalkM of man, is only blesi'd:
He, as in some safe cliff, his cell does keep;
From thence he views the labours of the deep:
The gold-fraught vessel which mad tempests brat.
He fees now vainly make to his retreat;
And, when from lar the tenth wave does appear,
Shrinks up in stlcnt joy that he's not there.

Tjn*. L?*

t

[ocr errors]

tius in the life of Epicunu! who fays himself in the book wtoi xieifUf 'H star yag arn^xl^ix ri KToux xxrmrnfimrtxx* ttffn iiinx',, ri it xmiK T* iu^aartnn Xutx xitnnv itigyetxt f&'tvotrxi.

Ver. al. In these nineteen verses he asserts, that but few things are requisite for the ease and delight of the body, and that neither great riches, nor delicious eating and drinking, nor costly apparel, or furniture, are of any considerable advantage, since without any of them, our natural wants may be supplied, and that too with pleasure enough: and even though we enjoyed all those delight*, our bodies would nevertheless be liable to diseases and pain. How vain is it then to contend ambitiously for wit, for wealth, and for power; to bend our lost endeavours to outshine each other; and to waste our time and our health in search of honour and in pursuit of riches! Lucretius was aware of this, and therefore had reason to exclaim:

O wretched man! in what a mist of life,
Eoclos'd with dangers, and with noisy strife,
He spends hu little span ; and overfeeds
His cramm'd desires with more than nature needs:
For nature wisely stints our appetites,
.And craves no more than undisturh'd delights;
Which minds unmix'd with cares and fears obtain:
A foul serene, a body void of pain;
So little this corporeal frame requires,
So bounded are our natural desires.
That wanting all, and setting pain aside,
With bare privation sense is satisfy'd.

DryJ.

Ver. 15. He means the golden statues, which were formerly used in the houses of the rich, instead of sconces and candlesticks, in their entertainments by night; and he seems to blame the expeufiveness and prodigality of the suppers of the Romans in his age. This passage, which Virgil has imitated in Culiee, ver. 60. and in Georg. ii. ver. 461. Lucretius himself took from Homer, Odys. vii. ver ICO.

Ver. 37. Thus Horace, in Epist. ii. B. I.

Non domus et fundut, non xris acervus et aur
Ægroto domini deduxit corpore febres,
Non animo cuVas.

Which Dryden's translation of this, passage of Lu-
cretius shall serve to interpret:

Nor will the raging fevers sire abate,
With golden canopies and beds of state:
But the poor patient will as soon be sound
On the hard mattress, or the mother-ground.

Ver. 39. In these twenty-five verses, the poet declares, that since even kings and princes, the most potent and wealthy of men, are disquieted with seats and cares, and lead not happier lives than others, the greedy thirst of honour, power, riches, &c. must proceed from the ignorance of true happiness; and no wonder that this ignoranee is so gross, since we walk as it were in the dark, and lead a life not yec enlightened with the rays of Epicurean philosophy. And he insists from the vain and groundless start aud terrors of C c

men, that we all live in darkness. For as children in the dark dread every thing, and imagine ridiculous dangers, so all men are terrified with the belief of Providence, arid punishments after death, which, according to Epicurus, are hut the day-dreams of a crazy mind. Now Lucretius, to dispel this darkness, and deliver his Mcmmius fr»m all fears and disquiet of mind, purlues his subject, and sully aud elegantly explains the nature of things.

Ver. 40. Faber, in his note upon this passage of Lucretius, fays, that Horace had it in his mind when he writ,

Non cr.im gazæ, neque consularis
Summovet lie! or milcros tunuiltus
Mentis, et curas laqueata circum

Tecta volantes.
Scandit xratas vitiosa naves
Cura; nee (urmas equitum rclinquit,
Ocyor cervii, et agente nimbos

Ocyor euro.

Which Otway thus interprets:

Neither can wealth, nor power, nor state,
Of courtiers, nor of guards the rout,
Hor gilded roof, nor brazen gate,
The troubles of the mind keep out.
For baneful care will still prevail,
And overtake us under fail.
'Twill dodge the great man's train behind,
Outrun the doe, outsty the wind.

To which I will add these excellent verses of Vairo the Epicurean: • Non sit thefauris, non auro pectn solutum: Non demunt animis curas, nec religiones l'crsarum montes, non divitis æria creesi.

- Ver. 57. Seneca, in Epist. ex. fays: Such is the nature of the mind, as it seemed to be to Lucretius, when he said:

Nam veluti pueri trepidant, atque omnia cæcis
In tenebris metuunt; sic nos in luce timemus,
lnterdum nlhilo qua: sum metuenda magis, quam
Quæ pueri in tenebris pavitant, singuntquc futura.

As children are surprised with dread,

And tremble in the dark, so riper years

J .veil in broad day-light arc surpris'd with fears;

And shake at shadows, fanciful and vain,

As those that in the breasts of children reign.

DryJ.

And are we then, who tremble in the light, more foolish than children! 'Tis false, Lucretius! We are not afraid in the light, but have made all things darkness to outselves: We fee nothing neither what is hurtful, nor what expedient: We blunder on all our life long, and stumble at every step; yet we still continue to stagger forwards in the fame method, and take no care to place our steps with greater circumspection: we see how dangerous it is to make haste in the dark, and nevertheless we persevere in driving full speed to our journey's end: but if we would, we might have light upon, the road; though there be but

one way to get it, which is, by acquiring a fhnrough, not a superficial knowledge of human and divine things; if we would continually contemplate and study the fame things over and met again, even though we know them; and if we would apply them often to ourselves; if we woulj inquire diligently into what is good, and whr. evil; if we would examine with care and submission into the wonderful works of Providence; and lastly, if we would learn truly to distinguib between what is honourable, and what base.

Ver. 6.). The argument of this second book it briefly contained in these sour verses. He promiscs first to explain the motions of the feed*, bf which motions things are generated and dissolved. Secondly, the cause of those motions; and, thirdly, the swiftness of them. When he has performed this, every thing will be prepared and ready (or him to enter upon the explication of the generation and dissolution of things.

Ver. 68. Being about to dispute of the different motions of the atoms, and of the causes of those motions, he fortifies his way beforehand, and in opposition to some weak and foolish philosophtr-, demonstrates in these thirteen verses, from the growth and decrease of things, that there is motion: for the reason why things grow is, becaiilt some particles of matter fly and adhere to them; and the reason why they diminish, is, because some minute particles having loft their hold, retire and fly away from them. And it would be absurd lo say. that those particles either come or go without motion.

Ver. 77. He alludes to the Xa/irdS^iiit, the race of torches, which were ccrum games celebrated at Athens in honour of Vulcan, and in which the racers carried torches in their hands, and strove who should get first to the goal with his torch not extinguished: This the Scholiast on Aristophanes in Ranis. These Athenian games were called Xaptwiiurmi, atd the victor, a txarcr of torches;

because all the torches of those that run were delivered to him as the prize of his victory : from whence the word Xxfmhit^ai is used to signify, to deliver successfully and in order. Cafaubcr.. in Perf Sat. 6. Thus Plato, in 6. de Legibus: TnwTis x«i ixf-ftytrru sr«72sf, Kslavif \iftr*i* Titt fiior Tra^altlnrii aXkus i£ tAJai, begetting and breeding children, as it were delivering the lamp of life. But Pausanias makes this more plain. In the academy of Prometheus, fays he, there wat sn area, where men were wont to run in a circle, carrying lighted torches in their hands, and the main of the strife consistedin keeping their torches alight during the swiftness of their running: For he whose torch was extinguished, yielded the victory to him who came next aster him, and he in like manner to the third. Thus Paufanias. Now this custom Lucretius thus applies: As the runner whose torch went out yielded the victory to the follower; so a living thing when its light of life is extinguished, yields and gives up to anothet living thing, as it were, the lamp of life. Thus the remains of the vegetable life in giafs, yields itse^

« EdellinenJatka »